Applying social and ecological approaches to evaluate factors influencing river otter (Lontra canadensis) visitation to fish-rearing facilities in Pennsylvania

K. J. Pearce, T. L. Serfass, S. A. Ashcraft, S. S. Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In Pennsylvania the production of game and other fish species is a $1.6 billion industry, and loss from depredation can take a serious toll on fish stocks and associated revenues. Following a reintroduction project and natural expansion of native populations, river otters (Lontra canadensis) are now widely distributed throughout Pennsylvania. To determine occurrence and extent of depredation by river otters, we conducted telephone or mail surveys with 156 (80%) of Pennsylvania’s 196 fish-rearing facilities. River otters were reported in the vicinity of 50 (32%) facilities, of which 23 (46%) reported river otter visitation. Of the facilities that reported river otter visitation, most (87%) reported losing <5% of fish stock to otters and 91% reported an annual economic loss of <$500 from river otter depredation. Binary logistic regression determined that greater amounts of tree cover (%), facilities that reared >100,000 fish annually, and private facilities were more likely to experience visitation by river otters. Our results demonstrate that the existence of river otter populations in Pennsylvania does not appear to be a significant economic threat to fish-rearing facilities and physical and landscape characteristics of the facilities are important in determining the likelihood of river otter visitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number33
JournalEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
Volume63
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Depredation
  • Fish-rearing facilities
  • Human-wildlife interactions
  • Lontra canadensis
  • Pennsylvania
  • River otter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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